Rabat: overloaded vehicles, accidental illegal driving, and a colorful marketplace

After we left Larache, we had dinner in Moulay Bousselham, and then drove a bit further in the evening. We found a place to park in a dirt lot off a small road where we hoped we could spend the night, but just as we were getting into bed, there was a knock on the window. We opened the door. Three men were standing outside. They told us that this was their property and that we couldn’t sleep there, so Philipp got back into the driver’s seat and we searched again for a place to sleep. Eventually we found another empty lot, parked, fell into bed, and luckily were able to sleep through until the next morning.

After we woke up, we got back on the road. The goal for the day is to get to Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.

We drove through Kenitra, where it seemed to be market day.

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We’ve only been here for a few days now, but we’ve already seen so many insanely overloaded vehicles. I’m guessing this is nothing out of the ordinary here.

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We also somehow found ourselves accidentally driving along an unfinished highway. We started out following a dirt road, but it was so bumpy  and full of  rocks and holes that we started to get worried that we were destroying our tires (not to mention everything inside the bus was flying all over the place), so when we noticed a paved road that was running parallel to our dirt one, we quickly switched over. We quickly realized that something about this was weird. We were literally the only ones driving here, there were no markings on the road, and there were people walking on it as if it were a footpath. We shrugged it off, thinking that we were just ignorant of how things work around here.

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But then we saw this, and realized that we had been driving on an unfinished road that wasn’t yet ready for use. Oops….

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After we got out of that mess, we arrived in Rabat and found a guarded parking lot where we could leave our bus. Our friends Paola and Igel who had been traveling with us decided to drive on ahead and find a place to sleep for the night, since they aren’t such fans of big cities and weren’t feeling so well anyway. We set off on our bicycles to check out Rabat.

The marketplace was amazing; intensely colorful, the smell of freshly ground spices and simmering meat in the air, women standing next to big wood-heated griddles making fluffy pancakes, men sitting around drinking tea.

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We rode over to the castle and walked through the gardens.

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We had a nice view of the sea from there as well.

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And then it was snack time, my favorite time of the day (or night).

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Freshly pressed orange juice, harcha (rough semolina pancake), a fluffy pastry, some dark bread, honey, marmalade, olives, and tea, all for two euros.

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When we had seen enough of the city, we took our bicycles back to the bus and headed off towards the place that our friends had found to sleep.

We’ve been looking for a place to refill our gas bottle for quite a few weeks now, and have had no luck so far. We’ve seen a lot of Moroccans cooking on burners that are directly attached to gas bottles, and have been looking for a place where we could buy one too. Today, we finally came across a man selling them, so we immediately bought one.

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It works pretty well, although I’m not sure how safe it looks to me.In any case, it will work until we can find somewhere to have our main bottle filled. Until then, we’ll be cooking the Moroccan way.

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